There is a lot to be said about atheism and skepticism in general. I am very active on social media and have full engagement with atheists and agnostics. I have developed a pretty good sense of the thinking and issues. This article isn’t intended to a full treatise on atheism but rather an analysis of Psalm 53:1-3.
Simply put, there aren’t really any atheists and to assert you are is “foolish”.
The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt, and they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one. ~King David | Psalm 53:1-3 (CSB)
The apostle Paul sums it up best when he says
“For his [God’s] invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 CSB)
David received a revelation of God’s view of the human race: they are all fools. His summary description is in this verse: the fool believes there is no God; thus his life is corrupt and vile (i.e., abominable to God). In fact, no one does good. PERIOD!
David then reported the details of this revelation. God investigates the human race to see if there is one prudent person, but the search is fruitless. The entire human race has become corrupt (’ālaḥ, “soured” like milk). This word for corrupt differs from the word for corrupt in Psalm 53:1. As the Apostle Paul reports; not … one single person is without sin.
Let’s did deeper:
- The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” We start with the assertion that it is stupid, wicked, impious and foolish to say there is no God. What is a fool? The Hebrew word is נָבָל nâbâl, (pronounce naw-bawl’). It means stupid, wicked and impious. A fool (-ish, -ish man, -ish woman) and a vile person. This essentially refers to someone who rejects God and chooses evil.
- They are corrupt, and they do vile deeds. This is a strong statement, but atheists are corrupt in asserting there is no God. That level of disobedience in denying God’s authority leads to evil deeds. An example is that it is almost universally common that atheists don’t believe in life and support murdering babies. That is vile. Vile here is תָּעַב tâ˓ab, (taw-ab’).It means to loathe, i.e. detest. To be utterly abominable. Yikes!
- There is no one who does good. David expands the scope now. While atheists are foolish, none of us is free from missing God’s goal for our lives (aka sin). None of us is good.
- God looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. God knows what is going on. Jesus knows what is in our heart. Jesus once said to his followers “If you being evil …”
- All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. While atheists are corrupt, corruption isn’t just their problem. We have all, at some point in our lives, turned away from God. While David had a heart after God, he committed adultery and murder. Pretty sobering. This knowledge should keep us humble and compassionate.
- There is no one who does good, not even one. Jesus asserts that there is no one good but God. God is completely perfect and set apart from humans who choose to disobey God’s plans and goals for us.